Saturday, December 11, 2010

because i'm not a one-trick pony

(here's the proof that i think blog-worthy thoughts about things other than grief sometimes, too.)

we finally decorated our christmas tree today. it has become a tradition for us to get our tree on the first sunday of advent--which was two weeks ago, mind you--but somehow this year it took us those two weeks to finally drag the boxes out of the attic. it was those boxes that got me thinking.

most every ornament on our tree has a story, as does most every ornament on most every christmas tree, i'd wager to guess. and there are ornaments not on our tree that have stories, too, like the ones given to us for christmas in 2000, the first year we were married. before we headed home for christmas that year, we put up a sad little fake tabletop tree and discovered we had basically no ornaments with which to decorate it. that christmas was a year of practical gifts, things our budding life together needed--a shiny new metal toolbox for sam, and, among other things, quite a few very delicate, beautiful ornaments for the next year's tree. without my knowledge, my dear new husband packed all my beautiful ornaments in his shiny metal toolbox--"packed" in the sense of just putting them in there--and checked that toolbox with our luggage on our flight home. needless to say, those ornaments never made it on our next year's tree.

but i digress. (you should know that we can--and often do--laugh about those ornaments now. but in january of 2001...well, they really had been beautiful.)

what i was struck with as we decorated the tree this year, though, was not the stories behind the ornaments. i enjoyed those stories as much as always, of course. but as i unpacked the boxes, i was struck with their familiarity. the boxes! a few years ago, i bought some of those fancy rubbermaid ornament storage boxes, as our now-overwhelming collection had outgrown the few random boxes in which the ornaments were packed--"packed" in the sense of wrapped carefully and individually in bubble wrap or tissue paper, of course. but some of the old, un-fancy boxes have retained their contents, too. i was amazed at the stories those boxes could tell.

they're random shipping-type boxes, these are. at least one was from gifts shipped to us that same first christmas and bears our first address together--that ghetto apartment in durham that not many of you who are reading this have known us long enough to remember. several boxes have years' worth of scribbled out labels on them. one bears the now-obliterated words "for luke's eyes only"; it was used the first year he was in preschool as he brought home things he had made for us over the course of december. he needed somewhere secret that he knew was safe to stash these treasured projects (or he needed somewhere for me to stash them for him after i unpacked them from his backpack, somewhere safe where i was sure not to see them), and so he used this box, which he kept under his bed, labeled to ensure its safety.

the wrappings for those ornaments are also strangely familiar, like the perfectly-square pieces of bubble wrap, leftover--it must be--from our move from the ghetto apartment to the middle-of-nowhere-but-in-the-middle-of-everything townhouse that, again, few of you will remember. (we wrapped pretty much everything very carefully in bubble wrap for that move, traumatized as i still was from the only-six-month-old memory of my lost ornaments.) i think some of that bubble wrap is in those boxes, still protecting ornaments from our second christmas. there was--until this year, and i wonder what happened to it--in one of those boxes a yellow plastic bag from fay's drugs, our drugstore throughout my childhood until it was taken over by eckerd in 1997 (so says wikipedia, since my memory is not that specific), also protecting some ornament with a story of its own.

protection, containers, vessels...i'm pretty sure that on most nights i'd have something more profound with which to connect my thoughts about boxes of stories and ornaments. earthen vessels? hmmm. perhaps not tonight. i think maybe it's enough to just enjoy the stories in those boxes.

(maybe i am a one-trick pony after all. at least maybe this week.)


Meredith said...

Love it, D. I remember those beautiful ornaments, and those apartments!!!

Humorously enough, I was just telling the story a few days ago about when I first started in the lab about 5 years ago and going for a bandaid...and finding in the first aid kit Fays brand bandaid. Needless to say, the stickiness was definitely gone...

Anonymous said...

my goodness, the apartment! i think your stories of living there are forever etched in my brain. and the townhome! remember our olive garden coupon dinners?! :) i miss you, daniele!!